Student directed learning
Children learn best when they are in control and interested in the things they are learning. When interested, they are likely to ask more questions, be more creative, persevere for longer and take learning to a deeper level.
Many of the activities during a school day are teacher directed with students following the routines and activities prescribed by the teacher – where teachers set up and direct the activity. Discovery time provides opportunities for a greater focus on student directed learning.
Discovery Time activities should fall toward the student directed end of the continuum with little time spent at the adult directed end.
In Discovery Time we will see children involved in:
Totally student directed learning – self education
Students have their own idea, collect their own resources, control the process and are in charge of the outcome. Individual students might take on a leadership role.
- Student does – gather the resources they need, come up with ideas, try things out , experiments, take risks, is highly focused, follow their passion, anything is possible, evaluates their learning and identifies their next step
- teachers role – having a class set up for easy access to equipment, allow for chaos and mess, allow managed risk taking, respect students attempts and ability, positive affirmation without direction, values the process over the product, understands that things don’t always work out, allows time for children’s ideas to develop
- teacher says – have you had any problems, how did you do that? where did that idea come from, this makes me think of, try it and see, that looks tricky keep going, don’t give up, things don’t always work out the first time, try again, What a great invention, you’re a great inventor, good thinking, you have interesting ideas, where will you go next with that idea?
Mostly student directed learning – some adult direction in questioning
Students have their own idea but need some help to make it happen.
- Student does – has ideas, tries things out, may be tempted to give up, may get stuck and need help
- teachers role – provides scaffolding, keeps the project tilted toward success, makes suggestion but leaves the choice of options open
- teacher says – how can I help, what can I get for you, what do you need to do next, You’ve nearly got it, Do you think …might help, remember when we did…would that help?
Student and adult directed learning – collaboration, learning together
Co-construction everyone having an input, making suggestions and jointly deciding the the direction of the project.
- Student does – shares ideas, tries things out, evaluates ideas, listens to other ideas, is open to suggestions, shares responsibilities, respects other opinions
- teacher’s role – know when to stand back and when to be part of the team, keep the momentum going without dominating, model the social skills of group collaboration
- teacher says – what other ideas does the group have, do we all agree on that, has anyone else got a good idea, who could help us with that, what else do we need to do.
Occasionally we may see children involved in:
Mostly adult directed learning – The initial idea for the activity comes from the teacher rather than the student
Involves a degree of adult instruction, this may include students following step by step directions (how to books – craft activities, origami)
- Student does – decides on an idea they would like to pursue, a skill they would like to learn or an activity that they hadn’t thought of but looks interesting
- teacher’s role – find activities that will capture a student’s interest, will add to students body of knowledge, will extend a student’s thinking, will provide the specific skill that the teacher has observed a need for, models a particular skill, helps to interpret the instructions, gives explicit direction
- teacher says – this is how you do it, it might be easier if you do it this way, see if you can find instructions online that we can follow, these are the things you will need, let me know when you get to this tricky bit and I’ll give you a hand, now you know how to do it perhaps you can teach someone else.
Totally adult directed learning – instructions in how to do something, learning a new skill
- student does – ludo knuckle bones, hop scotch
- teacher’s role – teaches the rules of games, models social conventions of playing games, ensures everyone involved, models letting others join in, winners and losers, models setting up and care of equipment
- teacher says – whose turn now, do you want to join in, thanks for playing, good game, oh dear I lost, better luck next time.
Student directed learning – some articles that might set you thinking
Dockett, Sue – Australia “Parents see adult supervised activities as a way of doing something valuable. Play isn’t seen as valuable any more in its own right” “The most creative people in the world play with ideas.” “Hurried children don’t get a chance to test ideas, explore and experiment because they are always meeting adult time frames and expectations” https://www.det.nsw.edu.au/inform/yr2002/may/hurryhurried.htm
Costa, Arthur L. & Kallick, Bena. (2004). Assessment Strategies for Self-directed Learning. Thousand Oaks , CA : Corwin Press/SAGE Publications. In a review of the above book Anthony Truog says: “The book’s appeal should be to a wide-range of interests. But, be forewarned, their hypothesis fundamentally changes the way schools interact with students. They are suggesting a change from a culture of testing and preparing students for tests to a culture of preparing students for the test of life—self-directed learners. The possibilities are tantalizing. http://www.edrev.asu.edu/reviews/rev261.html